Painter John Ferrie says he has a 50-year connection with Whistler.The Vancouver artist is known for his colourful cityscapes and has built a career and following with them, but now he has gone to the wild side and is taking his style up the highway.
Ferrie has 16 new paintings of Whistler in the lobby of the Four Seasons Resort and Spa from July 18 to Aug. 21.
"I love painting Vancouver and I love the subject of Vancouver, but I can't paint Vancouver for Whistler. I've skied in Whistler my whole life — when I first skied there it was a tiny village in Creekside," Ferrie says.
"There was a little tin-can gondola going up and then you got on the red chair and for about an hour-and-a-half howling wind and then climb up to the Roundhouse.
"To see Whistler as a 365-day-a-year resort is really something. The collection I've painted has captured snowboarding, mountain biking, ziptrekking, gondola rides... the pulse of a very sophisticated town."
The show came about because of a call Ferrie took several years ago.
"I picked up the phone and this guy said, 'I'm the president of Four Seasons Canada, John. We'd like your work in the lobby of the Four Seasons Vancouver for Gay Pride (day)' and I said, 'That's not funny!' and I hung up," Ferrie says.
The president was undeterred and called Ferrie back and told him it wasn't a hoax.
"I thought, 'Oh shit, this is real!' and I was lucky enough to be able to show my work there," he says.
He called that experience "magnificent" — it led to the sale of nine paintings to one visitor.
The opportunity to bring his work to the resort arose when the former general manager of the Vancouver Four Seasons took on the role at Whistler's hotel.
"It's a spectacular place and, being as bold as brass, I sent him an email and said I'd sure like to do a series of Whistler paintings and show them there," Ferrie says.
"He told me to book it and I am very excited. I love when places are receptive to artwork."
An artist who represents himself with a studio in Vancouver, Ferrie appreciates the prestige that this opportunity to show at the hotel provides.
"I've been managing everything my own way for several years now, and I find clients are savvy. We don't need a gallery to come along and say what you should buy. With the Internet and everything else these days, I get clients from all over the world," he says.
"I can't believe that people will buy a painting off Twitter, but they do."
Ferrie says self-representation is a matter of gumption.
"When you sit there waiting for someone else to ring the bell for you, it's a long, lonely wait. You can wait for the light to appear and shine on you, but it just doesn't," he says.
He would like to see other artists push themselves forward.
"I decided I would move my work and sell my work, it's going to go. I'll make people buy them and (I'll) be annoying," he says.
He recalls taking this approach years ago with talk-show host Vicki Gabereau, while serving her as a waiter.
"I said, 'Hi. I'm John Ferrie, the hottest young artist in Canada. You need to put me on your show! At the end of the night she said she'd phone security. And then I phoned her producer every day for a week and after lots of calls he said he'd put me on the show," Ferrie says.
He convinced the producer that he would provide "jolly good television" by producing a painting on the show every day for a week.
"Later, I told Vicki I was that waiter and she said, 'What?! If I had known, I wouldn't have allowed you on.'"
They're still friends, Ferrie says.
Last month, Ferrie was presented with a PRIDE Legacy Award for his work in Vancouver's gay community, a moment of great personal pride.
"I was very, very proud about that. It's something that means a lot. I was a tormented and teased young man in Calgary with the last name of Ferrie, and now I've won an award for just being me," he says.
"It is a great summer and now having a show in Whistler... I really feel as though I am spreading myself out a bit."
For more information visit www.johnferrie.com.
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